When I was a young buck, a password was something only secret agents used. I remember watching Get Smart and James Bond. They always used secret passwords to get passage to the Golden Ticket. To me, this was the coolest thing ever. I never dreamed I might soon live in a world where passwords dominated my life.
Today, I must use passwords for everything. If I want to check my bank account, I am required to own a password. If I want to pay my electric bill; password. Once I asked the Electric Company why I needed a password. They said someone might hack into my account. I told them it was okay with me if they got into my account. I don’t care if they know how much electricity I use. In fact, if they want to pay my bill, that is fine with me also. They were not amused. Heck, I even must have a password for my library card. As if someone is gonna check out a book in my name. I guess I’d be fine with them doing that if they gave me a decent review on the book they read.
I’m not necessarily proud to admit it, but I own an Apple phone. As a result, I must have an Apple password just to download an app that requires me to have a password.
It was okay when the password craze first began. I used my birthday for all passwords, which was only a handful. Life was good. Then my password on one app expired. This rocked my world. Now I must have more than one password. I tried to reuse my trusty birthday code. A red note informed me I could not use a previous password. Besides, I must use one uppercase and one lowercase letter along with a symbol, but the symbol could not be a & or a _ and it had to be at least eight digits but no more than twenty-four. No longer was it good enough to just have a password. No! Now, I must have a “strong” password. I enter my birthday, my high school football number, and the upper case first letter of my middle name. Or was it my last name. Heck, I forgot! What was it? A message tells me I’ve used the incorrect password. My only choice is to choose “forgot password.”
The forgot password app asks a series of questions I previously selected and answered. The premise is only I can answer these questions. “In what city did you meet your first girlfriend?” Gosh, did I choose and answer that question? Heck, who was my first girlfriend? I guess it was Debra. Or was it Patty? I wonder how Patty is doing these days? Someone told me she married well and was living the high life. She was a good person. Okay, focus Ron! I’m going with Debra. Now, where did we meet? Gosh, my brain is on overload. I assume it was Snyder. Yes, I remember that awkward night. I held her hand and my eyes rolled into the back of my head. My mouth got dry and I couldn’t talk. Come on, focus! Did I use upper case S or lower? I’m going with upper. Incorrect, the notice says in red. But no worries; I get a shot at my second question.
Gosh, I hope it’s easier than the first. I push select. The question is: who was your third-grade teacher? What? I don’t know. Did I even attend the third grade? I type Brooks. I get a response telling me they locked my account and I must call this 800 number to unlock it.
My wife believes if she argues with her phone, her Apple ID will change to what she assumes it should be. When it doesn’t, she thinks typical female social behavior works. She gives her phone the silent treatment. Later she gives the phone a history lesson to remember when she last changed it. The last stage of her failed password journey is rejection as she states, “I don’t need that app anyway.”
“Now, why do I need an Apple password?” she asks me angrily, as if any response from me will be enough.
“You need it to add any apps to your phone,” I patiently reply, reminding myself of the “for better or worse vow I took forty years ago.”
“I don’t need any apps on my phone,” she proudly states; a proclamation that lasts a day at most before she asks me to help her download another shopping app.
“What’s your Apple password?” I ask with a chuckle under my breath.
“Why do I need an Apple password to download an app?” she asks as we have come full circle and it starts all over again.
I hear her talking to her phone.
For me, I began doing something all the pundits tell you not to do. I write my passwords in a book. When I change my password, I scratch through the old and write the new one. But because I’m the clever one you see, I don’t write the real password. Oh no. I’m far too smart to do something like that. I’m not stupid. I write the password in code. For example, I might write 12footballjack. To decipher the code, I cut the word in half. So, the real password is 6basketballjim. Clever, right?
The key to this brilliant plan is remembering to take the password book with me at all times. Forgetting the book means my world comes to a standstill until I get the prized manuscript.
My wife thought the write it down process was a clever idea and decided to use the same book as mine. I reluctantly agreed but told her she must use a distinct color pen for her secretive codes.
Allowing another set of hands on this highly secretive document meant setting more rules. “The book must always stay here on the mantle. It’s centrally located in our house and will be handy when we need it,” I wisely decide aloud.
“Okay,” she agrees, as the words floated inside one ear and out the other.
Now, my female bestie leaves that book anywhere and everywhere she last had her convincing discussion with her phone over her Apple Id.
“Hon, what’s my Apple Id,” she says with that persuasive voice she uses when she needs my help.
“Did you look in the book, on the mantle?” I ask, knowing the answer.
‘It’s not on the mantle,” she hesitantly retorts.
“Who moved it?” I ask, with a smile under my voice.
“I don’t know,” she fibs. “Maybe the housekeeper.”
“Try the password, myhusbandisthemosthandsomemanintheworld,” I say.
“Be serious,” she says.
“You don’t think I’m handsome?”
And on and on it goes before she tries the “forget password” function. Now she is calling the 800 number to unlock her account.
A PIN seems to present similar challenges. When PINs first arrived, if you discovered my PIN, you could open my garage door, withdraw money out of my bank account and check out a library book. But now, the world has gone security crazy. A simple four-digit PIN has turned into digits, a password, security question, a thumbprint and a face if you have one of those fancy phones.
Well, I guess I’ll go now. I’m gonna download a movie.
“Honey, where is the password book?”
“Did you check the mantle?”
“Of course, I checked the mantle!”
I found the book in the bedroom. I turn to “n” for Netflix. The code says 6420 and the password says ronricoishandsome. Okay, so let’s cut it in half. The pin is 321. Now, how do you cut 0 in half? Where was I going there? I’ll guess half of 0 is still 0, I reason, proud of myself for remembering that little algebra tidbit. So, I’ll go with 0. Or was it the letter O? Forget that, I’ll just use my thumb print. Why is it not working? Oh, I have Cheeze-it residual on my thumb. One lick of my finger should fix that. Still not working! Now it wants to know the name of my second-grade girlfriend. I think someone is just messin with me!
They lock my account. Where is that 800 number? It’s in the password book.
“Honey, where is the password book?”